Charges filed in homemade bomb case

Haskins, Zabel face felonies as a result of August incident

— Two 19-year-old former Hayden residents have been charged with possessing an explosive device and reckless endangerment for allegedly setting off homemade acid bombs in Hayden in August.

Dusty Zabel and Isaac Haskins are scheduled to appear in Routt County Court at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 16 on the charges filed by the District Attorney's Office in September. Possessing an explosive device is a Class 4 felony and punishable by six years in prison. Reckless endangerment, a Class 3 misdemeanor, is punishable by as many as six months in jail.

Hayden Police Chief Ray Birch said Thursday that the teens' alleged actions were "more than a prank."

"This was more than just a prank or joke you might see on the Internet. This was dangerous," he said. "It had a serious impact on one of our officers and this community."

Birch said between 12 and 14 mangled plastic bottles were found throughout town the first week of August. The bottles appeared to have been remnants of homemade acid bombs, which explode when a common cleaning agent is sealed inside a plastic bottle with aluminum foil. Poisonous hydrochloric acid fumes are left over.

"When this thing initially kicked off, (the bombs) were exploding all over town," Birch said.

Hayden police Officer Darin Falk, who was the first to respond to the reports of gunshots - which later turned out to be the bombs exploding - was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with chemical bronchitis from breathing the toxic fumes.

"What made this so severe in nature is there is a gas that emits after the explosion that is very dangerous," Birch said. Darin "was thinking, 'I've got to get these off the streets,' and was throwing them in the back of his vehicle. Unbeknownst to him he was being overwhelmed with fumes because he didn't know he was dealing with a hazardous material. He thought they were dry ice bombs."

Falk is back at work, Birch said.

In addition to Falk's illness, the Hayden Police Department had to pay the Moffat County Hazmat Team to decontaminate Falk's patrol vehicle after the incident.

Neither Zabel nor Haskins could be reached for comment Thursday. The men, who currently don't live in Hayden, graduated from Hayden High School in May 2006.

Haskins was one of three Hayden teenagers sentenced to serve five days in jail and ordered to pay restitution to group of other Hayden boys who were branded with a heated coat hangar at a party in March 2006.

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